The Thief of Bagdad is an fantasy adventure film based on the classic Arabian Nights stories. This film opens up with a blind man on the street asking for money and is then soon met up with a woman that asks of him to help revive a princess from a deep sleep. The blind man is soon at the castle and is soon surrounded by a harem of beautiful women that refuse to let him go. The blind man uses the time to tell the harem the events that lead up to him being blind. The story of the blind man starts off with how he is actually a prince that was not happy with his life as all royalty saw themselves above everyone else, he didn't find that to be fair. The prince soon gets caught up in conspiracy as his assistant, Jaffar, soon sends him to jail just so that Jaffar can take over the throne. The prince soon befriends a thief he meets in prison, named Abu (played by Sabu*).
The two of them soon manage to escape from prison and head out to another town where they can escape to sea from there. Sadly, plans are soon to change as the prince falls in love with a beautiful princess. The prince manages to sneak into the princess' garden in order to see her to which he gets spotted and it is love at first sight. Sadly, there is another man after the princess and it is none other than Jaffar. The princess refuses to go with Jaffar and thus this makes Jaffar very upset. The prince manages to get captured while trying to see the princess again and that just makes Jaffar mad. Jaffar punishes the prince by putting a curse on him and Abu to where the prince goes blind and Abu gets turned into a dog, then the film cuts back to the blind prince and the harem of beautiful women. The blind prince manages to wake up the princess but only for Jaffar to take her away from him. Now the prince and Abu must go on an adventure to save the princess and put a stop to the evil Jaffar. (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this film is an adaptation of one of the 1001 Arabian Nights stories and it is adapted very well. The setting feels very magical and mysterious and will gain your attention very quickly to the point where you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen. The first quarter of the story is told though a flashback and you will get the impression that the entire film is a flashback until, BANG, BOOM, POW, the story continues after the flashback. The flashback segment was incredibly entertaining and is full of a lot of suspenseful moments that'll leave you hanging on the edge of your seat. The characters in the flashback are all very charming and you'll love them in an instant, except the character Jaffar, he is a very mean and menacing character and you'll be wishing for his demise every time you see him. I say that in a good way as the Jaffar villian is portrayed very well.
The story after the flashback segment is a thing that completely blows the first segment out of the water as it turns into a strong story driven action adventure flick that must be seen to be believed. You will be rooting for our heroes every step of the way as they become even more charming and (pardon my slang) bad-ass. The storytelling is so good that you will become immersed into the world and forget that this is an adventure movie. There is also a lot packed into this movie and the editing is also very tight and well paced to where it is all killer, no filler but with the exception of one scene. There is a scene towards the end of the movie (not going to spoil) that comes off as very rushed and anti-climatic, thank goodness the scenes that happen afterwards make up for that.
Acting in this movie is very brilliant as all of the actors make the characters come alive with their charming and talented acting style. The acting in this film is also very theatrical and grand to where you'll hear brilliant dialogue and the motion of the characters (face movement, body movement, ETC.) enhances everything else brilliantly. This film will make you end up believing that they are real people as opposed to actors playing characters. The looks of the characters are also really good as they all look very appropriate to the parts they are all playing to where no one was miscast. This film does also have some musical scenes and sadly those are the weakest parts of the film as those scenes aren't very memorable. I'm not saying that they weren't beautifully sung as they were beautifully song, it's just the lyrics and the instrumental sounds that made them not very memorable. The rest of the music soundtrack outside of the musical scenes was very good as it went with all the scenes perfectly and is also very memorable.
The thing that stands out the most about this film are the beautiful sets and the impressive special effects. The exotic locations are absolutely breathtaking as they are full of incredible detailing that just drags you deeper into the film. The coloring in this film is very crisp and clean to where you'll think that this film came out much later than when it did. The costumes in this film also help add to the immersion as they have a very authentic and magical feeling to them.
The special effects in this film look years ahead of its time and it makes most of the magical creatures such as genies, flying horses, giants spiders seem very real and the look has mostly aged really well. There were some scenes where the special effects have aged as you can see the blue screen around the edges of some of the characters but that doesn't happen much. Overall, I found the effects in this movie to be absolutely amazing, especially for a film from 1940.
This film also has a little cherry on top in the form of a special features section and in this section you get the following: Original theatrical trailer. An image gallery. Lastly, a promotional image gallery. The trailer itself is an amazing thing to be included as a special feature, however it is not the greatest trailer you will every see as it doesn't capture the magic of the film. The image gallery is a feature that I nearly got bored watching as the first quarter of the images were just screens from the film. What did change my mind about the image gallery was the rest of them, they were very nice photos and promotional images that are very hard to come by and they were also very interesting as well. The second image gallery (promotional image gallery) included a whole bunch of movie fliers, theatrical posters, and even images of merchandise such as children's books and a board game. It is incredible to see all of the promotional stuff from the film as they were very interesting for many reasons. Seeing all of this rare and old stuff really does help make for a fairly strong special features section.
Overall, this is an amazing movie and is also one of the greatest adventure films that I have ever witnessed in my entire life. This is a movie that I can not recommend enough of and is something that you must watch in general. Your life will never be complete if you do not watch this film. Brilliant movie.
*Note: Not the professional wrestler named Sabu.
Title: The Thief of Bagdad
Directors: Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan
Starring: Conrad Veidt, Sabu, June Duprez, John Justin, Rex Ingram
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Running Time: 106 minutes
Distributor: Via Vision Entertainment